Some memories of how things were in my childhood

I often like to think of how things were in my childhood (the 1970’s and into the 1980’s).  As a result, its made me want to write some of them down:

When I was a kid the phones were all dial phones.  It had the dials that spun around as you dialed the phone.  I used to love the sound it made.  When the push button phones came out I wondered why anyone would want it. 

The phones all had cords.  Often, these cords were very long.  Sometimes, in a conversation, you’d have to get something on the other side of the room while you’re talking on the phone.  The cord would go all across the room.  Often it would be stretched to the max.  I can recall once remarking, “why was everything just beyond reach of the cord?”  Its like things were planned that way.  If you were walking through the room you’d have to duck or lift the cord to get passed.

When I was a kid I used to always hear the older generation saying how they’d like to go somewhere “to get away from the phone”.  It seems I heard this at least several times a year.  Now, everyone and their dog has a phone surgically implanted in their hand.

I can remember phone booths all over the place when I was a kid, even on street corners.  Where I lived they were like a glass covered ‘shack’, large enough for one person (two people would be squished).  I haven’t seen one for years.  They were all coin operated.  I recall only using them a few times.

It seemed like the dial on the TV’s always broke.  They were generally made of plastic and broke with use.  As a result, many of us would get vice-grips and clamp it on the dial stem and use it to change channels.  Many of us would leave them on permanently so that there was always a pair of vice-grips sticking out in front of the TV:  our ‘rigged’ dial.

To change the channels on the TV you had to get up and change the dial.  There was no remote.  When I first saw a remote I wondered why anyone would want to spend the money to have one. 

There were only 5 stations when I was a kid:  2, 4, 5, 7, and 11.  The first three were public stations.  The last two were private stations.  I think they were funded by a University.  As a result, they had more ‘educational’ programs, something us kids wouldn’t of cared about.  Because of this, we never watched those stations all that much.  The only thing we watched on those stations were “Mr. Rogers”, “Sesame Street”, and “The Electric Company”, as they were the only ones that had them.

The TV’s had antennas that were often on top of the TV.  Some people would get wire coat hangers and put in the antenna outlet and use them for the antenna (apparently, they were better).  It seems that some people even put tin foil inbetween the wires, I guess thinking they’d get better reception.  Often, to get a clear picture, they’d have to move the antennae till the picture was clear.  Sometimes, a fraction of an inch could make all the difference in the world.

The picture on the TV was often cloudy or unclear, or there were often lines in it.  When this happened we’d hit the side of the TV with the bottom of our fist.  Sometimes it needed a big hit and other times a gentle hit.  Some people would get so frustrated that they’d hit it so hard that its amazing it didn’t break.  Some people thought there was a ‘knack’ to hitting it so the picture would become clear.  They had to do it the ‘right way’.  Sometimes, we just got used to the picture being unclear and accepted it.

TV dinners were in tin foil packages.  Both the tray and cover was tin foil.  We’d pull off or unroll the tin foil cover to get to the food.  The food seemed to taste different.  I guess all I could say is that it tasted ‘tin foily’.

When they began to make TV dinners out of plastic and, in some cases, cardboard, I couldn’t believe it.  I was apprehensive about it as I’d thought they’d melt or burn.

TV dinners and those small burritoes (such as made by Lynn Wilson) were cooked in the oven, sometimes for a half hour or more.  It took years, actually, before I began to cook them in the microwave.  When the microwaves first appeared, in the 1980’s, I didn’t think they cooked very well and didn’t use it that much.

Popcorn was cooked on the stovetop.  They came in cheap frying pan-type things that had a handle with a tin foil cover.  You’d put in on the stovetop and move it around so the heat would be evenly distributed.  You had to continually move it.  Then it would start popping and the top would start to rise and rise til it became like a dome.  Then you’d break open the tin foil and eat it.  I remember that when the hot air popcorn poppers came out in the 1980’s I thought that was quite the thing. 

Pop cans had a tab that you pulled off the top of the can.  This left a hole on the top of the can that was like an elongated triangle that you drank out of.  Many people would toss the tab to the side.  This used to irritate some people as it was like polluting.  Other people would put it in the can itself.  I often did this.  I became apprehensive when I heard that some people had choked on the tab when they lifted the can up to drink the last little bit and the tab slipped in their mouth.

I used to listen to a lot of records.  I had a collection.  I had many full LP’s, which had 5 or 10 songs on each side (depending on how long the songs were) and 45’s, which had a single song on either side.  The LP’s had a small hole in the middle that went on a post in the center of the record player.  The 45’s had a large hole which required an adapter which went over the center post.  I had many of my favorite songs on 45’s and I’d put a whole stack of them on the post (with the adapter).  It was quite a stack, as much as it could carry.  It seems it was like 1 1/2″ thick with records.  Then I’d listen to them over and over again.  There was some that I listened to so much that I think it wore the grooves down on the record and, after awhile, it sounded muffled.

The LP’s seemed like they were like $6.00 or $8.00 to me.  In about 1980 I had to take care of a neighbors yard and, with what they paid me, I bought an album of the Beatles which had a collection of their songs to about 1965, I think.  It was a two record blue colored album.  They had one for their latter years, too, and it was red colored.  If I recall right it cost about $20.oo which was a lot of money to me. 

It seems that the 45’s were somewhat cheap, like $1.50 or something like that.  We’d go to the mall and special order specific songs from the record shop.  It seems like they were there in about a week.

When you played the record player a long time there would begin to develop a large mass of dust on the needle.  Often, if the sound began to get muffled, it meant you needed to clean the dust off the needle.  All you had to do is lift the needle up and, with two fingers, grab the mass of dust on the needle.  It often got quite big.

Because of the dust, the music from a record player often had ‘popping’ in it as it played.  I generally would blow the top of the album before I put it on the record player.

Some of the large LP’s had really neat covers on them.  Often, they’d have things inside, such as paper with lyrics, pictures, etc. When the CD came out I was sad to see all that go.  The picture on a CD is nothing compared to the one on an LP.

I recall buying and recording 8 track tapes.  I can still recall aisles of 8 track tapes in the stores.  They were very large and bulky and took up a lot of space.  Because of this, the 8 track tape section was very large. 

They even had 8 track tape players for your car.  I can recall going on vacation and, because they were so big, we’d have a big stack of them. 

After John Lennon died I stayed up all night and recorded a Beatles A to Z that a radio station did, all on 8 track tapes.  I think it filled about 7 or so of them.   I had them all on my dresser for years. 

When I was in grade school, in the 1970’s, I recall they used beta tapes (I think that’s what they were called).  These were these huge black things.  It seems like they were 1.5 to twice as large as a VHS.  Being a kid, I thought these were ‘magical’.  The teacher would come in and put it in this player.  At our school they had all the TV’s on a stand.  The TV was quite high, maybe 6′-0″.  Below it was a shelf which held the beta tape player.  I think it was silver.  They pushed a button and a port of the top would ‘magically’ come up, which had a space to put the tape.  They put the tape in and pushed the top down.  Then, as if out of nowhere, a movie would appear on the screen.  They kept all these tapes in a special room and they had to ‘check them out’ much like a book at a library.

There were never any toy stores when I was a kid.  It seems the closest we got was an aisle or two at K-Mart.  Whenever we went in a store that had toys me and my brother would say, “we’ll be in the toy section” and take off.  Often, this would be a single aisle, and not a long one at that.  Looking at it now, there wasn’t a whole lot to look at, but me and my brother would be there til mom and dad picked us up. 

G.I. Joe’s were big when I was a kid.  All us boys had them and played with them.  To me, a G.I. Joe was a large guy, about 12″ tall.  You could move his arms and legs and head.  Some had ‘fuzz’ for the hair and some even had ‘fuzzy’ beards.  They were not the small cheap ones that appeared in the 1980’s.  It’s interesting that when I went to see the show “G.I. Joe”, that recently appeared at the theatres, I thought I was going to see things like our G.I. Joe’s but there was none of that.  My cousin had to explain to me that this was based on G.I. Joe’s from the 1980’s, which is what he happened to of played with.  I had never seen them before.  I was unaware that these G.I. Joe’s even existed!

We had a number of things that went with G.I. Joe, like a command vehicle, or a ‘sea-wolf’ submarine, and other things.  We’d spend all day in the backyard playing G.I. Joe’s. 

I recently went and looked at my G.I. Joe’s in the basement and, in general, they are all pretty well hammered.  As with most of my toys, we played with them hard. 

When I was a kid we played a lot outside.  In fact, we hated to be inside.  During summer break I often hated to even walk into a house.  It felt like I was going into a dungeon.  We were always outside riding bikes, playing G.I. Joes, playing at the playground, or doing some other thing. 

After school I watched “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch” almost religiously.  After they were over I’d go and play. 

Other shows I recall watching are:  “Star Trek”, “Space: 1999”, “The Six Million Dollar man”, “Starsky and Hutch”, “The Sonny and Cher Show”, “Donny and Marie”, “The Carol Burnett show”, “Welcome back Kotter”, “MASH”, and “Happy Days”.

I loved to eat childrens cereal when I was a kid.  I’d often try to convince my mom and dad to let me have it for dinner too, which they sometimes did.  Some cereals I liked were:  “Quisp” (one of my favorites, but I think you can only buy it on the internet nowadays), “Crunch Berries”, “Lucky Charms”, “Honeycombs”, “Wheaties”, and “Cheerios”.  When I had cereal like “Wheaties” or “Cheerios” I”d put so much sugar on it that it would practically turn the top white. 

Some cereals had toys in the box.  When we first opened the box we would stick our hands in the box and dig down til we found it, which was usually at the bottom of the box.  This used to make my mom angry.  Some of those toys I still have.

I often went with my mom to get the groceries every weekend and push the cart around.  I think it usually was about $30.oo to $50.00. 

At that time, everything at the store were put in large brown paper bags.

I can recall that the cashier had to enter each price in the cash register individually.  They had to punch each number.   They often had made this really hard “machine” sound every time the numbers were punched.  I often wondered how the buttons could stand up to the constant use.  It seems like they would wear down quickly.  Whether they did or not I don’t know.  The printout of the machine was just a list of all the numbers punched.  I often wondered how many ‘wrong’ entries were made.

I used to use typewriters that were manual.  That is to say, the movement of your fingers when punching the keys is what moved the arm that punched the letter on the paper.  There was no electrics at all.  I recall having to learn how to erase mistakes with that little eraser, which had a knack at forming holes in the paper or scraping the paper so thin that you could see through it.  I recall having to plan each sheet, counting spaces, and such when writing a paper.  This all had to be done beforehand.  If you made a mistake you’d have to do it all over again.

When I was in grade school the school used a specific type of copier.  I’m not sure what it is called.  I saw it once in the school office (and elsewhere as well).  I’m not sure how it worked but there was this drum-like thing that spun around its axis.  It seems like it would have something on it that would print it on the paper as it spun around.  It left a printed sheet that had purple-colored letters that were fat and crude.  There was no sharpness at all in the printout.  In some cases, the letters were almost blobs.  This is what we used in school for tests and notices. 

We used to trim the lawn with hand-held clippers, which were like large scissors, except that the blades were rotated 90 degrees.  I dreaded having to go out there and trim the lawn, especially in the summer when it was hot.

The garbage men used to put the garbage in the back of the garbage truck by hand.  They’d drive around in trucks that had the opening in the back.  Usually, there were two guys who would hang on the back of the truck as they went from house to house.  Then, when they stopped, they’d get off, grab the garbage cans and dump the garbage in the back of the truck.  They then would toss the garbage cans back where they were.  The garbage cans were made out of galvanized steel and often got banged up pretty good.  I can remember being in the house and hearing them stop and handle the garbage cans all the time.

We used to build ramps and jump our bikes.  This was because Evil Knievel was big at that time.  It seems we’d even put things on the ground to see if we could jump over it.  I, not being much of a dare devil, didn’t do it much but a lot of kids loved doing it and became very daring.  Some even hurt themselves.  One of my friends claimed he had to wear glasses because of an accident he had.  Some kids even broke their bikes. 

I recall using a lot of Iodine when I was a kid.  Everytime I got cut I would put it on and then put a band-aid over it.  It would stain my skin a dark rust-like color, which was often a nuisance as you generally had to wear it off. 

When I was a kid the mom’s all stayed home.  No matter which friend I went to their mom was there.  Often, they would do things for us and make things for us.  They might even make us ‘special lunches’ and that.  If we got hurt there was always someone to give us a band-aid.  And it seems that the moms were always doing something.  Hardly ever did you see one just sitting there doing nothing. 

The dads all came home latter in the day, after work.  I remember many moms saying something to this effect:  “don’t bother you’r dad after he just got home from work”.  Generally, we didn’t bother him for a half hour or so after he got home.  Many dad’s were grumpy after work and needed time to ‘settle down’. 

I can recall that there was an element of ‘fear’ around the dad’s.  I always treated my friends dad’s with great respect and courtesy.  I was often frightened to speak to them.  This was not out of blind fear but because of ‘fatherly authority’.  When I was a kid the father’s had authority, an authority to be feared.  Whenever you were around the dad’s you generally bahaved yourself and didn’t screw off.  I can remember a statement that would strike fear in us:  “wait til your father comes home”. 

Even though there was a fear around dad’s I don’t recall ever seeing a dad ‘punish’ a kid, except a few spankings.  Often all a dad had to do was raise his voice and that was enough.  It’s interesting that the parent who did any ‘beating’ of my friends was the mother.  I know that several of my friends were ‘beaten’ every so often.  One of my friends was my neighbor and I recall hearing his mother scream and yell next door and hit him.  I think the worst I heard a dad do is to get his belt and hit him on the butt a few times with it. 

When I was a kid we were spanked if we misbehaved.  This usually was just a single smack on the butt.  This was a part of ‘kid life’ to me.  Even though I did not like it when I was a kid I am a firm believer that kids should be spanked for misbehaving.  Many kids, nowadays, should be spanked in my opinion. 

Spanking, though, was for smaller kids (up to, maybe, six years old).  When we got older we were generally punished by being deprived of something or being ‘grounded’ (that is, having to stay in the house and not go out and play).

It seems that there was a ‘mom’ and a ‘dad’ when I was a kid.  The mom was a mom and the dad was a dad.  Not only that, it seems that mom and dads worked together, each doing their thing to help out.  This type of mutual cooperation seems rare today.  I look at the poor kids nowadays and I can’t help but feel sad that few know that.  This seems almost a crime to me.

When I was a kid, there was a sharp demarcation between male and female.  I wasn’t even allowed in a girls bedroom . . . and this in grade school!  Not only that, I felt that I did not belong there anyways, and that it was not a place a boy should be.  Both the male and female had things that the other sex had nothing to do with.  Even birthday parties was a place where the opposite sex was not allowed (unless they were close relatives). 

As part of a mutual respect no one tried to intrude onto the other sexes activities or places.  If the boys had a ‘clubhouse’ no female would try to intrude.  If there was a room where girls were playing none of us guys ‘intruded’, but went elsewhere instead.  Even to this day, I see things like ‘baby showers’, ‘bridal showers’, and such, as strictly female affairs . . . a place a male does not belong.  To this day, I have a strong sense that a male and female need their ‘place’ and their ‘activities’ that the other sex does not belong. 

This separation of the sexes went also to specific chores as well.  A male, for example, does not clean dishes or do laundry.  A female, for example, does not mow the lawn, do house repairs, or do anything involving heavy exertion.  We each had our function and place . . . and we learned our function and place like a trade.  No one had to tell a female what she had to do.  No one had to tell a male what he had to do.  They both have been ‘taught’ and ‘practiced’ it already.

I recall a big part of ‘girl play’ was playing with a ‘baby’.  Every time you turned around you saw girls with ‘babies’.  I often wondered how this was possible, as it seems that it would get boring after awhile.  Later, this would turn into ‘house’.  They’d imitate their mothers doing their household activities.  I often played ‘house’ with a number of girls (I think they were all sisters of friends I had).  They always made me the baby or a child, it seems.  Later, their play would turn to ‘dolls’ where they usually played ‘Barbies’.  Here they played being a grown-up.  They would dress them, do their hair, and all that.

Us boys, on the other hand, were ‘all over the place’.  I sometimes felt that they ‘turned us loose’.  We’d go somewhere and off we’d go to who knows where.  We could be waiding streams to walking through the brush to building dams in a gutter.  It was sometimes like the world was created for us to trample upon. 

‘War’ was a big part of our play.  All of us played ‘war’ in some way or another.  We’d play G.I. Joe’s or dress up as ‘army guys’ and go around the school shooting one another.  We all had our ‘favorite tanks’ (for me it was the Sherman M4A1 or the German Brummbar) and such.  We liked war movies and I recall watching “World at War” (about WWII) which I thought was really neat, though I didn’t understand a thing about it.  I just loved the footage.  In many ways, war was glorified perhaps too much.  In late grade school I developed this strange notion that Adolf Hitler was a hero of some sort.  This is because he was always talked about with such great importance on the war movies.  My sixth grade teacher would tell me a bit more of the truth . . . which I was stunned to find out. 

We boys also built things, drew a lot, and created things.  I got really involved in model building by late grade school.  A lot of us boys built models.  Usually, they were war related.  I tended to like to build tanks.  Model building was very popular at the time.  Of course, this is probably because models were so cheap then.  Now, they’re a fortune.

Starting in the late 1970’s we often went to rock concerts.  At that time they were cheap.  Seems like I recall one was for $6.50.  Sometime in the 1980’s they went to about $13.00, I think, and I said I’d never see one for that much (I think I have only been to one since).  The prices since has gone through the roof.

About the same time the symphony was about $20.00.  That was outrageous to me.  I think I have only been to two symphonies, being that I like classical music. 

When I started driving in the mid 1980’s the price of gas, I think, was 65 cents a gallon.  When it went to a dollar I couldn’t believe it.  Since then it has gotten worse.  Just the other day I had to pay about $3.80 a gallon.

Around about the same time I would often take the bus.  My recollection is that it was about 60 cents.  This means that it cost me $1.20 to go uptown and back.  Now, to go uptown and back cost about $4.70! 

Also, it seems that I could buy a lunch for a little over three dollars in the 1980’s.  Everywhere I went it would be like $3.25 or $3.50.  Now, they’re about six or seven dollars.

It seems that, when I was young, the gas stations were “full service”.  This means the guy came out and filled your car, cleaned your windshield, and I’m not sure what else they did.  They may of checked the tires and even the oil.  Sometime in the late 1970’s or into the 1980’s I heard my dad say that some stations were going to have “self service” sections in their gas stations.  This stunned me.  I seem to recall asking my dad that “wouldn’t it be dangerous to have people load the gas themselves?  They might cause an explosion.”  I thought, for sure, that we would hear of explosions at gas stations, but we never did.  I know that I was apprehensive about loading gas in the car at first for that reason.  Anyways, I began to see gas stations all over the place that would say “full service” next to one bank of pumps and “self service” on the other bank and pumps.  This seemed to last about five or so years and I heard my dad say that they were going to make all gas stations “self service”.  Seems like that was in the 1980’s. 

It seemed that the older generation all had this ‘depression era’ look about them.  To me, it was a defining trait of the older people.  It seems to me that 60 was ‘old and on the verge of death’ when I was a kid.

I recall when they used to have smoking and non-smoking sections in the restaurants.  Whenever you went in they’d ask you which section you wanted.  It seems that, usually, one side was smoking and the other side was non-smoking.  Anyways, sometimes you’d have to take the smoking section because the non-smoking section was full.  I used to hate this when we sat next to some people who smoked a lot.  It could ruin your meal.

I recall that when you bought something with a credit card they would put it in this contraption and then lay the payment form on top.  There was a roller thing attached to the contraption that they’d move across so it went over the whole form.  Apparently, there was a roller in it that rolled over the paper.  As it did this it would imprint the number of the credit card on the payment form.  They then would take the form out and give you back your credit card.  You then had to sign the form, which had the amount to be put on your credit card.  I didn’t get my credit card til the early 2000’s and I had this only happen once, when I was in Vienna, Austria.  I always wondered how safe that was.  Anyone could counterfit your number and signature and put whatever amount they wanted.  I’ve not heard of any problems though.

I can remember when calculator’s went on the market.  To me it was amazing.  It seems like they were a lot of money (I keep thinking of $60.00) and, it seems, all they did is do basic calculation.  They also didn’t have the liquid crystal letters.  The numbers seemed to be made up of small tiny lights placed in a row.  The buttons were also these hard plastic things that sometimes required quite a force to press. I can remember seeing them for the first time at stores.  They seemed so ‘valuable’, if I recall right, that they were behind the cash register.  It seems like they often had fancy numbers like “Texas Instruments XY19-B” printed on them.  I remember that I thought I’d never be able to use one, being that they were so special, but I ended up getting one in the mid-1980’s for school. 

We used to go camping with a camper that fit on the bed of our pickup truck.  It was quite high and it hungover the cab.  Up there was a bed to sleep in.  I recall loving to sleep up there, especially near the window.  When we went somewhere me and my brother would lay up there and look out the window, which looked forward.  I always thought that was funny, two kids laying down looking out the window.  A couple of times, when the truck hit a hole or something it would almost throw us from side to side.  I sometimes worried it would tip over.  The inside of the camper was very small but, yet, many times me, my mom, my dad, my brother, my friend, and my brothers friend would stay in it.  That’s six of us!  I remember that eating dinner was quite a thing.  We all had to squeeze in there.  I think we generally ate outside, unless the weather was bad.

I can recall that, when we went to the shoe store, the salesman would measure our feet and determine which shoe would fit.  He would be there with us the whole time.  When they had “self serve” shoe stores, where you went in and tried on which shoe fit best, I was stunned. 

Trick or Treatin’ at Halloween was fun.  I can recall going out and there’d be kids all over the place.  It would almost be like rows of kids on the sidewalk.  Nowadays, there’s not many at all.  I liked walking in the dark and not having a clue where I was at. 

We used to buy kites at the store.  I recall buying them at K-Mart.  They were paper and used wooden struts that were held together by metal or, later, plastic connectors.  The last I remember buying, in the late 1970’s, had “The Planet of the Apes” on it with a picture of Cornelius.  I thought that was the neatest thing in the world.

In grade school I went to school with a lunchbox.  The lunchboxes were made out of metal back then.  The last one I used had “Space:1999” on it.  It was really neat but it got really banged up.  I can still recall seeing the plastic ones appear.  I thought, “how cheap”.

All the cameras had to have the film loaded by hand.  The film was in small black plastic canisters that you loaded into the camera.  A portion of the film was sticking out which had holes in it.  You matched these holes up to sprockets in the camera (which rotated to move the film).  Once loaded, the sprocket turned and automatically indexed the film to the first location.  When the film was used up the camera pulled all the film inside so that no film is exposed.  Then you would take the film canister out and go to the store where they’d have the ‘drop boxes’.  There you’d find envelopes that you had to fill out with your name, what type of prints you wanted, and such.  You put the film canister in the envelope, seal it up, and drop it in the box.  In about a week, I think it was, you could go and pick up your pictures. 

I can recall that some of the viewfinders were very crude on some cameras.  Some reminded me of ‘play binoculars’ for kids.  At the top of the camera there was a spot where they put a couple of cheap lenses.  When you looked through it there was often a distorted-like image that you saw (such as with a cheap toy).  Not only that, it was hard to tell where the limits of the picture was going to be.  As a result, you took the picture in the ‘general direction’.  It seems that, sometimes, I’d have parts cut off that I didn’t think were going to be cut off.

I recall all the camera’s were manual.  There was no electrics at all.  To index the film, you pulled a lever which rotated the sprockets so the film went to the next film location.  When they went electric I thought it was weird having to put a battery in a camera.

We had to put flashes on our cameras.  They were one-time disposable things you bought at the store.  I can recall they’d have racks of them near the cash registers.  One of our cameras had a flash like a cube that you attached to the top of the camera.  On 4 sides were flashes.  Each time you indexed the film it would automatically index to the next flash.  When you took the picture it would flash.  When the 4 flashes were used you had to replace it.  Some could get quite elaborate too.  I recall that one, in particular, was very tall.  It may of had two rows of five flashes, making a total of 10 (it seems like it was about six inches tall).  As the pictures were taken it would go from one flash to the other automatically.  The flashes used some sort of chemical that burned.  They were not electric.  As a result, when they were expended you could often see the burnt ash on the inside of the flash.

They had camera’s called Polaroid camera’s.  We never had one but I saw people use it.  They were quite large.  This is because, after you took the picture, the camera would automatically print it.  The picture would automatically come out the bottom front of the camera.  I was often amazed by this as it often came out seconds after you took the picture (while you still had the camera to your face).  It printed on some sort of a special plastic sheet.  To me, it seemed to be made up of different layers of plastic, probably with chemicals inbetween.  I’m not sure.  Because of all these special sheets the cartridge to load it was quite large.  I think it was quite expensive too.  I’m not sure how many pictures were in it either.

The film cameras had to be loaded with film.  My dad always did this so I don’t know how it was done.  I didn’t start to load the film camera until they used VHS.  They also had handles on the bottom which made them resemble a gun.  It seems they had a trigger like a gun too.  On the top was a viewfinder which could be as cheap looking as on a camera.  When you film you held this ‘gun’ to your face, looked through the viewfinder, and pointed in the direction you wanted.  They must of been electric because all you did is press a button.

I can remember going with my grandma to buy a film camera.  At this time, they used a VHS type cassette (it was the mid 1980’s).  It was so large that one edge went on your shoulder and you held the other end with a handle.  It had this protuberence on one side which was the viewfinder.  It also had a large spongelike thing above the lens, which is what recorded sound. 

When I was in grade school we used wooden pencils.  It seems that a pen was quite a novelty.  It seems that the pens they used were still using the special ink cartridges, I think.  I don’t recall any ball point pens.  I don’t think there were markers then.  The pencils also used lead, not plastic, as you often see now, and they were real wood.  Having a pencil sharpener was very important and I got well versed in how to sharpen a pencil properly.  I used to love the smell of the shaved wood. 

I can recall when the Bank Tellers all had bars in front of them.  You generally slid your slips, money, etc. under a small gap under the bars.  Later the bars would become windows.  They would have grooves or holes at about mouth level and you slid your stuff under the window.  Sometimes, I recall having difficulty talking to the Bank Teller because the holes were too small or something.  I always thought that was funny how we had to do that.  Now their desks are completely open and there’s nothing to protect them.

When I was a kid there was a sense of what I can only describe as a ‘people’.  I felt part of a culture, as if we all belonged, and were somehow connected to everyone else.  We were all alike and similar to one another.  We all had similar values.   We all looked at life similarly.  I sometimes described this as a ‘tribal feeling’ or being part of a ‘clan’.  Having this feeling I felt ‘protected’ and ‘taken care of’.  In other words, it gave a sense of security.  Being part of this ‘tribe’ there was an authority to look up to and trust.  It was a wonderful feeling.  This sense seemed to disappear in the 1980’s. 

I can remember when all the ketchup were in glass bottles.  It was a pain trying to get it out.  The natural tendency was to tip it upside down and hit the bottom with the palm of your hand.  This, though, often made a gush of ketchup come out (which I saw many times).  The other tendency was to stick a knife up the bottle and ‘draw’ some ketchup out.  This was OK at home but I remember people would get mad if you did it at a restaraunt.

We never used seat belts when I was a kid.  I don’t think I used them til the 1990’s.  It seems that some people just tucked them out of the way somewhere.  I recall thinking they were a nuisance having these buckles and belts lying about. 

We also used to climb up under the rear window and stand up between the two front seats.  It seems that we also often sat on the lap of the person in the passengers seat up front.

I recall some of the cars in the 1970’s as being huge.  My grandma and grandpa’s car had a front hood that stuck out about a quarter of a mile it seems.  Before they got rid of their car, in the 1990’s, I looked at the door alone.  It seemed like it was as long as two car doors on most cars now.  The door, alone, probably had more metal in it than the whole body of a modern car. 

Almost all the cars when I was a kid had handcranks for the windows.  That is, you had to crank a handle to make the window go up and down. 

It also seems like most cars had AM/FM radio’s.   You could get an 8-track tape player and put it in if you wanted though.

I also don’t recall a lot of air conditioners in the cars.  I always recall rolling the windows down.

I can recall buying coke in bottles from these automatic dispensers.  Now, its all in cans.   With the bottles you can’t move them about like cans and drop them out the bottom.  With the bottles you had to open a door and reach in and get the bottle.  It was like a refrigerator door with large seals around the edge and thick glass.  Because there were other bottles next to it, there were all these means so you couldn’t steal the next bottle.  There were usually things like thick bars or the frame was so close that you couldn’t take one out.  There was sometimes so much stuff to prevent stealing other bottles that I had to squeeze my hand in to get the bottle.  Then, usually on the front, they had a bottle opener.  Typically, it was inset so that the bottle cap would fall into a small box which they’d empty later.

I loved to get things in the mail.  It seems it took a long time to get things though.  I recall hearing “allow 4-8 weeks for delivery” a lot.   It seems like the lowest I recall stamps being was something like 20 cents.  We used to have to lick the back of the stamp to make it stick.  The glue generally tasted terrible.  Sometimes there wasn’t enough glue to make it stick.  In that case, I generally glued it with some stick glue, if we had any.  I may of even used Elmer’s glue.

The weathermen on TV did not have the fancy graphics they have now.  I seem to recall that they used a board which had an image of the state on it.  To demonstrate the weather I think they used images of clouds, a sun, a storm front, a lightning bolt, etc. that were magnetised.  They would then mount them on the board where needed.  Often, it seems, they never moved anything on the board but explained it.  Occasionally, they would move some of the magnets, such as the storm front magnet, to show how the weather will progress. 

I also recall the newsmen on TV sat on a desk in front of a wall.  On the wall was a frame where they would put in pictures to show the news.  I’m not exactly sure how the pictures got on there though.  It seems that some were actually printed and placed up there.  The newsmen also read from sheets of paper which they had in their hands.

It seems like, when I was a kid, everything was made in Japan or Taiwan.  Now, you hardly ever see that.  Everything, nowadays, is made in China.

I recall that, when you went to a fast food place, the cup sizes were different than they are now.  A small cup size was about the size of a kids drink now.  A medium cup size was like a small.  A large drink was like a medium.  And so a large drink, now, is like an extra large then.  I still have the old sizes in my head and am always stunned how large the cups are, as I usually request a small, but I end up getting a cup that, to me, is like a medium or even a large!  It seems like everything went larger in the 1990’s, I think it was.

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